Philosophy of why MPI works with partner organizations
Within Chaquijyá there are individuals striving to gain community leadership and economic independence, institutions dedicated to sustainable change, and networks of people and organizations working together to strengthen their community. MPI-G bases its work on these individuals, institutions and networks, and as a young organization operated by yearlong volunteers, the long-term success of our programs and projects depend on the extent to which our programs are built into, and grow up from, these local actors.
La Escuela Primaria Central de Chaquijyá:
The Elementary School of the Central neighborhood is one of our oldest partners and was instrumental in helping us establish ourselves professionally and socially in Chaquijyá. We have worked with them in English programs for students and teachers, health programs, the Bottle School project, and summer camp. We have a very close relationship with many of the students and teachers of this school.
La Escuela Primaria Cooperativa de Chaquijyá:
The Elementary School of the Cooperativa neighborhood also has proven to be an important community connection. We have worked with them in English programs for the teachers, after-school English programs for students, health programs, and summer camp.
La Escuela Básico Central – NUFED:
Central’s Middle School first opened in January 2012, so it is a very recent addition to the community. Until then, students who wished to continue their education beyond sixth grade would have to either travel to Cooperativa or elsewhere. When they opened in 2012, we taught their English classes for the 7th and 8th grade. As NUFED enters its second year, it will expand to have a 9th grade as well.
Padres de Familia:
The Padres de Familia is the Guatemalan equivalent of a PTA. Each of the above schools has a Padres de Familia. Every parent is required to serve with the Padres de Familia for a year. Each school’s Padres group meets once a month, and meetings are primarily in Kaqchikel, the local Mayan dialect. At these meetings, Padres discuss upcoming community events, education, construction, and more. Many important people of the community serve on the Padres, so this proves to be an important community tie.
Consejo Comunitario de Desarrollo (COCODE):
The COCODE is a government subsidized community project organization that supports projects ranging from paving roads to starting social programs. They act based upon majority decisions and are a well-respected board of local men. We look forward to supporting them in various community projects.
Maya Traditions, an important employer of artisan groups in the region, has spearheaded holistic approaches to development in the Western Highlands for over twenty years. In addition to employment, they offer training in new weaving techniques, education scholarships for children, and traditional medicine classes. We bring short-term volunteers to Maya Traditions to learn more about other local NGOs and community development approaches.
Community Enterprise Solutions (CES):
Community Enterprise Solutions (or Soluciones Comunitarias in Spanish) was started by former Guatemala Peace Corps volunteers. They are most well-known for their “Micro-Consignment Model” of social enterprise. In this way, they train local entrepreneurs about new products (such as eye glasses), who in turn go to various rural communities teaching about such products. Each of their products is sold for a low price and will have some sort of health, environmental, or social benefit. The entrepreneurs are given an inventory of such items and sell them in “campaigns” in communities with minimal access to healthcare. The entrepreneurs do not have to pay for the items up-front, but only once they sell such items.
We have worked with CES a few times, hosting campaigns in Cooperativa and Central. In the future, we hope to use their irrigation system in creating school or community gardens. We will also be hosting “charlas” (or workshops) about their stoves, which are healthier and more economical than the stoves most Guatemalans use.
Hug it Forward:
Hug it Forward is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that helps rural communities in Guatemala and Central America build bottle schools out of discarded plastic bottles filled with inorganic trash. Such schools not only clean up poor communities and provide much-needed educational infrastructure, but also teach environmental awareness, foster community leadership, and ensure that local citizens take ownership of the school. Thanks to Hug it Forward, we are about to finish a 4-classroom bottle school addition to the Central school. This project has re-used over 16,000 plastic bottles and 16,000 pounds of trash!
ASOATITLAN is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Chaquijyá through economic, political, social, and environmental empowerment. The organization is made up of fourteen proactive and passionate members. Presently we work alongside individual members of ASOATITLAN like Jesus Toc, who has provided us with contacts and any other help that we have need during our time in the community.
Recently, we have partnered with CEIBA to create a community garden in Cooperativa. CEIBA works in many other communities in the area to promote environmental initiatives and nutrition education. Their knowledge and experience has helped us greatly in starting the new garden, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them as the garden progresses.
Niños del Lago:
Niños del Lago is a unique, non-profit youth development organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering children to fulfill their potential and become positive, productive members of their communities. We have connected them to the primary schools in Cooperativa and Central so that they can potentially offer an educational camp opportunity for the schoolchildren from Chaquijyá.
Ministry of Education:
We are currently working with the Ministry of Education on supporting primary schools in Cooperativa and Central to become certified as "escuelas saludables" (healthy schools). We have also edited an English teacher’s curriculum put together by the Ministry of Education which is being created for grades 1-6 of primary schools in all of Sololá.